Thank you Mr. Penick

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Harvey Penick’s Little Red Book

I just got home from my Thursday night stop at Callaway. Things have been mediocre for me at the range. Seems like one week I’m making really good progress and then the next week I find something new that’s causing problems and it screws with my head and I’m three steps back from where I was.

I’m not sure what drew me to it, maybe it was the golf Gods telling me I was ready for it now, but about a week ago I decided to pick up a book that I read a long time ago and had completely forgotten about. Harvey Penick’s Little Red Book. I think I was twenty the first time I read it. It never hit home with me, I was twenty and dumb, thought I knew everything. A friend of mine that I worked with, whose Dad was an incredible golfer, had given a copy to him and asked him to read it. When he was done with it he asked me if I wanted to read it. We had talked golf a bit, so he thought I might be interested in it. I skimmed through it, didn’t find too much interesting in it to tell the truth. I gave it back to him a few days later, thanking him for the read.

Years later while working at Las Vegas National I had a relapse with Mr. Penick. I was in my mid twenties now, older, but not much wiser that’s for sure. I was playing a round of golf with Chuck and hit the ball in the Sand trap. “Crap!” I said out loud. Chuck came up to me and asked what the problem was. “I just put in the damn trap, I hate hitting out of the fucking sand!”“Bunker.” He said. “What?” “It’s called a bunker, keep negative thoughts out of your head. Trap is a negative word. When you say to yourself that you “hate” being in the “Trap” that’s two negatives you have placed in your mind before you have even addressed your next shot.What if you have a great lie? You’ve already convinced your mind that you’re done.” Chuck could tell that I had not one clue about the mental aspect of golf. Later that day after our shift we were hitting some balls on the range. Chuck told me about a book that he thought might help me understand a part of the game that he was pretty sure I was completely unaware of. “What’s it called?” “It’s by Harvey Penick; it’s called Harvey Penick’s Little Red Book.” I didn’t even realize that it was the same book I had read, well skimmed, some five years ago. Until I got to the book store and held it in my hands.

This time I read every word on every page. It was like Mr. Penick was sitting down with me telling me his stories, his real life experiences. How naïve I was the first time I was presented with this gift. What a dumb-ass I thought to myself. Harvey’s words don’t just apply to the golf course. You can use his lessons in everyday life as well. I think I read that book about ten times in the next few months. I still have that copy, it’s the one I rereading now.

I don’t think I ever told Chuck how much I appreciated him helping me become a better golfer. My time at LV National ended rather quickly. I do miss listening to his stories, and he had some good ones.

If you haven’t read Harvey Penick’s Little Red Book, stop what you’re doing right now. Close out this window and take your ass to the bookstore. Don’t buy it on-line, go right now to the local book store and buy a copy. It’s a very easy read and it will make you see golf in some new perspectives I can guarantee that. I recently went out and bought two of Mr. Penick’s other books and have begun to read them too. I’ll let you what I think about them.

Oh yeah, almost forgot. I’m going to be playing Black Mountain County Club on Saturday.I can’t wait.Randy’s playing too. Got the round booked for $35.00 w/cart. Not bad! I haven’t played that course since my wife’s baby shower for our first daughter. That was back in January of 2006, should be a good time.

Follow Mathew Wangrycht:

Writer and founder of the golf blog The Breakfast Ball. My wife will tell you I'm obsessed with the game, she's right! It's that obsession which drives me to become a better player and make this site enjoyable for everyone.

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